The bonds of friendship: VFW Buckley-Baldwin post marks 90 years of service
By Kris Leonhardt
WISCONSIN RAPIDS — On May 19, 1932, 39 members were initiated into Wisconsin Rapids first Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) organization, setting on course a 90 year history of community service.
The initiation took place at the Battery E armory, were Charles N. Laramie became the first post commander. At that time, the organization was limited to “ex-service men who served beyond the 12 mile limit in an foreign wars carried on by the United States.”
Charter members included: Edwin Hagen, Arthur F. Kennedy, Peter Engwall, Carl F. Zeaman, Jesse Powell, Irving E. Barnitz, Edgar Worlund, Anton Schudy, H.P. Magnusson, Harry Russell, Merrill Fanning, Albert F. Galganski, Earl Hein, Walter Oilschlager, Mathew V. Kehrberg, George J. Gibson, Benjamin L. Thielke, Fred Preissler, William Scholten, John Hagen Jr., Charles Parker, George Mullen, Fred Bentz, William Sage, Edward J. Nash, Ernest Kroll, Mike Beards, Charles Harcourt, A.F. Cichy, Donald Daly, John Philleo, and Dr. F.X. Pomainville.
The post was named in honor of John William Buckley, who was killed in France in November of 1918.
A 1934 newspaper article states that the national organization owes its national origin to a Columbus, OH, group who fought Spain in the early 1900s. Stating that, “Deciding to perpetuate the bonds of friendship which held them together through the conflict, (the) group of men organized themselves into a group Sept. 23, 1899, for the purpose of cementing the comradeship of all men who served on the high seas or on the battlefields of a foreign country as defenders of the United States.”
The small group grew to scattered units throughout the U.S. and then to an association that represented nearly every state by the time that the Rapids post joined.
After two years of organization, the Rapids post took on seven points of action in the community:
1.Establishment of a uniform pension system based on length and type of service and disability.
2.The enforcement of a uniform system of pensions for dependent mothers, widows, and orphans of veterans.
3.The immediate cash payment of the bonus due.
4.The persecution and deportation of communists and other individuals advocating for the overthrow of the government of the United States by force or violence.
5.The conscription of capital and industry without profit in time of war, to be done on the same basis as the conscription of troops.
6.The immediate federal control of all munitions for the prevention of international traffic in armaments.
7.The building of an adequate national defense force as advocated by the War and Navy departments.
In addition, the local post sponsored in part the work of the Eaton Rapids National Home for Orphans of Veterans of Foreign Wars. The 600-acre “child village” provided a home and care for the children in Eaton Rapids, MI.
Continued in next week’s edition
The Buckley-Baldwin VFW Post will host a “90 Years of Service” celebration on May 21, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., at the Donald J. Knuth Memorial Hall, 2711 Reddin Rd., Wisconsin Rapids. Events include a 10 a.m. welcome and ribbon cutting, anniversary declarations, guest speakers, and Memorial to the Fallen at 1 pm, and much more.